On the Books:Council Votes to Limit Recreational Marijuana with Zoning Ordinance

On the Books:Council Votes to Limit Recreational Marijuana with Zoning Ordinance

The City Council voted in favor of a proposal put forward by City Manager Tom Ambrosino to limit the siting of recreational marijuana retail stores and cultivation facilities.

The vote came on an 8-2 majority after an amendment by Councillor Roy Avellaneda failed to get the eight votes needed for passage. Avellaneda and Councillor Calvin Brown voted against the City Manager’s proposal. Councillor Luis Tejada was absent from the meeting.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they have limited zoning areas for retail establishments to the Industrial Zone and the Highway Business zone. Marijuana cultivation and lab facilities would be limited to the Industrial Zone only.

The state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) has issued regulations regarding the numbers of facilities allowed in each municipality and Chelsea could have up to four retail licensees. The CCC will begin accepting application on April 2 and will potentially begin issuing them on July 1 – though the July 1 date is still very much in the air at the state level right now.

Ambrosino said it was imperative for the City to get something on the books now to limit the locations for these establishments.

“I have proposed an ordinance to try to accommodate this new industry in a way I think is reasonable,” he said. “You do need to pass some ordinance to regulate this new industry to ensure the entire city isn’t open to establishments in this new industry.”

There was a great deal of discussion, though, before the vote was logged to pass Ambrosino’s proposal.

Avellaneda had an amendment that would have eliminated the Industrial Zones as an area for retail, and would have included the Shopping Center district instead – which is in places like the Mystic Mall/DeMoula’s and the Parkway Plaza.

He said siting cultivation facilities in the Industrial Zone is a no-brainer, but he said retail of any kind, even marijuana, doesn’t belong in an industrial area.

“This will be a storefront,” he said. “You don’t picture this in the middle of some warehouse where there are no stairs and a loading dock and lifts for pallets in front. When you think about the retail, we think of this, we should think of it like a jewelry store…You have no public transportation in the Industrial Zone. You’re not taking the bus down Marginal Street or Eastern Avenue…This proposal is drawn up by individuals thinking about this like it was 20 years ago and not today.”

Avellaneda had some measured support for his amendment, but it did eventually fail, getting only six of the eight votes needed.

Those voting for his amendment included Councillors Enio Lopez, Yamir Rodriguez, Bob Bishop, Giovanni Recupero, and Judith Garcia. Those voting against it were Councillors Damali Vidot, Calvin Brown, Leo Robinson, and Joe Perlatonda.

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MS-13 Member Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison for Chelsea Murder

MS-13 Member Sentenced to 22 Years in Prison for Chelsea Murder

An MS-13 member was sentenced on March 22 in federal court in Boston to racketeering conspiracy involving murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder.

Bryan Galicia Barillas, a/k/a “Chucky,” 21, a Guatemalan national who resided in Chelsea, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV to 22 years in prison and five years of supervised release. Galicia Barillas will be subject to deportation upon completion of this sentence.  In October 2017, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO conspiracy.

The racketeering activity by Galicia Barillas, a member of MS-13’s Enfermos Criminales Salvatrucha (ECS) clique, included his involvement in the death of an innocent bystander in Chelsea. On Oct. 18, 2014, Galicia Barillas and Hector Ramires, a/k/a “Cuervo,” another member of the ECS clique, encountered a group of individuals in Chelsea suspected of belonging to a rival gang.  Ramires, who was armed with a weapon that Galicia Barillas had provided on an earlier occasion, shot at one of the suspected gang rivals and missed, killing an innocent bystander who was looking out a nearby window of a room she shared with her three children. Galicia Barillas was a juvenile at the time of the murder.

Galicia Barillas also accepted responsibility for his role in a Sept. 8, 2014, stabbing and attempted murder of an individual in Chelsea, which Galicia Barillas also committed when he was a juvenile.  Shortly after he turned 18, Galicia Barillas was involved in an April 2015 conspiracy to kill an MS-13 member that the gang believed was cooperating with law enforcement, and a May 26, 2015 stabbing and attempted murder of a suspected rival gang member in Chelsea.

Ramires pleaded guilty in October 2017 to RICO conspiracy involving murder and is scheduled to be sentenced on April 11, 2018.

After a three-year investigation, Galicia Barillas and Ramires were two of 61 persons named in a fifth superseding indictment targeting the criminal activities of alleged leaders, members, and associates of MS-13 in Massachusetts. MS-13 is one of the largest criminal organizations in the United States with thousands of members across the country, including a sizeable presence in Massachusetts. MS-13 members are required to commit acts of violence, including murder, against suspected gang rivals and those suspected of cooperating with law enforcement. The fifth superseding indictment alleges that, from approximately 2014 to 2016, MS-13 cliques in Massachusetts were responsible for, among other things, six murders and approximately 20 attempted murders, as well as robberies and drug trafficking.

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Acorda Therapeutics Looks at Major Expansion on Everett Avenue

Acorda Therapeutics Looks at Major Expansion on Everett Avenue

Riding on the heels of what is expected to be the approval of a new Parkinson’s disease treatment drug, Acorda Therapeutics of 190 Everett Ave. has announced a proposal to significantly expand its existing operations.

The company has been located at its facility for some time, and operates under a lease from a New York company that is very active in Greater Boston. Now, however, they received good news from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the likely approval of its new drug INBRIJA, a drug that delivers relief to Parkinson’s patients through an inhaler rather than a pill. It is expected it could be approved in October, leading to the need to ramp up manufacturing of it by 2019.

“Acorda Therapeutics seeks to expand operations at its manufacturing site at 190 Everett Avenue where it will support the global market for the Parkinson’s disease treatment INBRIJA and will ultimately provide the capability to support simultaneous manufacture of multiple products…The proposed project is an immediate expansion and upgrade of manufacturing and warehouse space. Acorda anticipates that the project will create 20 to 25 full-time, well-paying new jobs with targeted construction completion by Quarter 3 2019. This is a first step toward a long-term master plan vision that could ultimately create 100 new jobs and include a substantial capital investment.”

A spokesman for the company declined to comment now as it was too early in the process.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he is 100 percent in favor of the proposal and will speak in favor.

“I am hoping that it will be nothing for smooth sailing for them,” he said. “This is a very exciting proposal and I am 100 percent in favor. It has a lot of potential for Chelsea.”

The project includes a new manufacturing fit out of existing space in one of the buildings to house specialized equipment. It will also include the demolition of the 115-foot smoke stack and a demolition and reconstruction of another existing building on the site.

The manufacturing building will be unchanged in its footprint, though more than 2,000 sq. ft. of space will be added to the top floor for manufacturing.

The reconstruction of the demolished building will add nearly 4,000 sq. ft. of new floor area for manufacturing, shipping and warehouse space.

The identify that the new configuration will have at least 121 parking spaces, and they will require a zoning variance for the building height of the warehouse – where the requirements are no higher than 25 feet and the new building would be 66 feet. The existing building is now at 44 feet tall.

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After Long Process, DiDomenico Affirms ‘Strong Relationship’ with Sen President-Elect Spilka

After Long Process, DiDomenico Affirms ‘Strong Relationship’ with Sen President-Elect Spilka

After a long process, Sen. Sal DiDomenico allegedly fell a few votes short of gaining the Senate Presidency, a process that completed last week when State Sen. Karen Spilka corralled the 21 votes needed to secure the presidency.

It was announced publicly in a press conference on Thursday, March 22.

While no one was keeping score on the outside, and few on the inside were talking, it was believed by those watching closely that DiDomenico had as many as 19 votes just within the last month.

Sen. DiDomenico would not comment on the process within the Senate this week where he had tried to make a run for Senate President.

However, he did say publicly that he will still be the assistant majority leader in the Senate – a post he was recently promoted to and will keep under the new leadership.

He also said there is no bad blood between himself and Sen. President-elect Spilka after the long process.

“Before this process Speaker-elect Karen Spilka and I were close friends as we will continue to be,” he said. “We have worked well for some time as a result of me being the vice chair on her Ways and Means Committee. There is no bad blood or animosity between us. There comes a point in time when you have to bring the body together and move forward. I thought this was the right time to do that.

“Now that this process is over and we have a new senate president elect, I support Karen 100 percent and will do everything I can to support her as senate president,” he continued. “Our relationship is as strong as it always has been.”

Sen. DiDomenico did not want to comment any further on his role in the new leadership team, but affirmed the strong relationship between himself and Sen. Spilka.

“I look forward to serving under Senate President-elect Spilka and being an integral part of her team,” he said.

Observers had been worried that, as typically happens, the senator that comes out on the short end of the bargain gets relegated to the back of the room. Many thought that if Sen. DiDomenico lost, he might also lose all of the power and responsibilities he has worked towards since being elected and coming into leadership roles under former Sen. President Stan Rosenberg.

However, with DiDomenico affirming his positive relationship with Spilka this week, many believe that he will come out unharmed after the process finishes out.

As for the ascension, there is currently no consensus between Sen. President Harriet Chandler and Sen. President-elect Spilka about when she might take office.

Some postulated it could come on July 1 after the end of the current fiscal year.

Others thought it could come at the end of December.

During a press conference last week, Spilka indicated they had not yet ironed that out.

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School Budget Shortfall Hits More than $3 Million, Called Today’s Civil Rights Struggle

School Budget Shortfall Hits More than $3 Million, Called Today’s Civil Rights Struggle

The Chelsea Public Schools has hit a major shortfall in its budgeting for next year, and reported at recent meeting that it is in deficit $3.1 million, and has been underfunded by as much as $17.2 million by the state funding formula.

It has now become a major call to action for the school community and for activists in Chelsea, including the Chelsea Collaborative – whose Director, Gladys Vega, called on the City Council to support joining a lawsuit against the state for underfunding schools.

That suit was filed by Brockton and Worcester last week due to what they believe is chronic underfunding of urban schools through the 1993 Education Reform School Budget Formula.

“This reimbursement problem in the formula needs to be solved and I think we need to address the formula and I urge the City and the City Council to join with Brockton on this lawsuit against the state,” said Vega at Monday’s Council meeting.

She was right on the same page with Supt. Mary Bourque, who on Monday morning said they are seriously considering making that move.

“We have not officially joined, but we are seriously exploring the need to join this lawsuit,” she said.

By the numbers, the state Chapter 70 School Budget has underfunded the Chelsea Schools in five categories, according to the schools. One of the key pieces comes from the new definition of economically disadvantaged students (formerly low-income), which has caused an underfunding of $1.077 million in the coming year. Other areas included things where full reimbursements are promised, but only partially delivered – such as with Charter School reimbursements.

Those numbers include:

  • Fringe Benefits, $5.78 million
  • Charter School Reimbursement, $2.014 million
  • Special Education Tuition, $7.98 million
  • Homeless Student Transportation, $373,059

This came on the heels of a very lively and contentious meeting at City Hall by the School Committee on March 15, where the School Budget process was rolled out to a standing-room only crowd.

Bourque led off the meeting saying it is time to stand up for public education, and pressure legislators to take up the cause – a cause she said was the Civil Rights struggle of our time.

“Sadly, we find ourselves in a time and place where we are not willing as a society to invest in public education,” she said. “Each year I come to you with a budget that is failing each year to meet the complex needs of our students. Each year I come to you with a budget that fails to provide an equitable education compared to public school children in wealthier communities. Each year these educators…are being asked to do more with less and less. Providing our schools with the funding that’s needed to educate the next generation is the Civil Rights struggle of our time. I ask you: Will you join me in this Civil Rights struggle and our quest for social justice? We need to have the courage to standup now and today for public education.”

The Chelsea Teacher’s Union called for the same kind of advocacy, but also called on the City and the City Council to use its $34 million in Free Cash to shore up the School Budget.

“For the short term, the City of Chelsea has made some significant investment in the schools and we appreciate that. However, we need more,” said Sam Baker, vice president of the union. “The City has $34 million in Free Cash and the City is seeing significant real estate development. What is the purpose of all this this development and progress if the proceeds aren’t going to support the education of the kids in Chelsea? The CTU welcomes the opportunity to advocate for changes at the state level. That’s a long term solution. I’m asking the School Committee and the school community to lobby the City Council to release more funds to the School Department here in order to prevent the cuts to this proposed budget.”

Catherine Ellison, a special education teacher at the Browne Middle School, said many of her students have suffered because of budgets last year. She said last year the middle school Special Education budget was slashed, and after hearing of the impacts, the budget still wasn’t restored.

“Caseloads have soared while resources have severely declined,” she said. “Children have been forced to struggle in mainstream classes while funds were cut…Our staff and our students have been aggressive in addressing the increasing and complex needs of our brilliant, resilient and magnificent children. It’s time for the school district to do the same.”

Chelsea is not alone in the struggles, which is why the lawsuit is such a tempting option for urban schools like Chelsea.

Already, in Everett, mid-year cuts to the tune of $6 million were avoided by an infusion of cash by the City, and it is expected that the Everett Schools could need as much as $8 million to plug holes next year.

Revere has a similar circumstance and isn’t as far in its budgeting process as Chelsea and Everett, but it is expected they will have a sharp deficit as well.

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Nathan Smolensky Announces as Independent in Congressional Bid

Nathan Smolensky Announces as Independent in Congressional Bid

Nathan Smolensky, a non-profit manager from Somerville, has announced that he will be running as an Independent for Massachusetts’s 7th District Congressional seat.

“We need Independent voices to speak up,” says Smolensky, “now more than ever. The parties are becoming increasingly polarized, and that means more strong-arming and undermining in our politics, and somehow even less getting done. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in this endless tug-of-war, and the American people are paying the price. But we can break the partisan stranglehold by demonstrating a formula for Independent success, and if we do that we can really change things.”

Smolensky’s own brand of non-partisan politics is focused on themes of empowering local solutions by making the federal government more symbiotic with local efforts, improving government efficiency by addressing wasteful and unsustainable spending programs, and making long-term policy possible by creating a blueprint for Independent success that can pave the way for a shift of the political landscape away from the volatile pendulum swings of the current paradigm.

The 27-year-old Somerville resident is currently best known for his work with the non-profit Massachusetts Chess Association, where he has served as president since 2013. In that role, he has spearheaded the organization’s educational initiative, Chess for Early Educators, which currently has pilots for curricular programs run by regular schoolteachers in several Somerville public schools.

Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District is comprised of the municipalities of Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and Randolph, roughly 70 percent of the city of Boston, and about half of the city of Cambridge and the town of Milton. Since taking its current shape in 2013, it has been won by incumbent Democrat Michael E. Capuano, also of Somerville, without a general election challenge. Its lopsided nature, however, can be a boon for independents, argues Smolensky:

“That’s the beauty of running in a district like this one. There’s no third-party or spoiler stigma. You’re not asking anyone to throw their vote away. You don’t have that bogeyman of the greater evil to scare people away from voting Independent. This is the kind of environment we [Independents] can thrive in, and, thanks in part to gerrymandering, there are a lot of places we can find it.”

Currently, Capuano is facing a primary challenge in Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. No other candidates have announced intentions to run.

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DiDomenico Supports Animal Welfare and Safety Legislation

DiDomenico Supports Animal Welfare and Safety Legislation

Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate unanimously adopted a bill designed to protect the health, safety and well-being of animals. S.2332, “An Act to protect animal welfare and safety in cities and towns” (PAWS II), expands on gains first secured in the original PAWS law which was filed in response to the Puppy Doe animal abuse case of 2014.

 “I was proud to support this important piece of legislation that strengthens and adds to the animal safety and welfare protections created under the original PAWS bill,” said Sen. DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “This bill sends a strong message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated, and we will continue working to ensure that all animals are treated humanely here in the Commonwealth.”

 “The Puppy Doe animal torture case inspired strong legislative action designed to increase protections for animals and prevent animal cruelty and neglect.  PAWS II builds on the foundations of our original law and will ensure that abuse is reported and enforced, that animal drownings are outlawed, and that our animal control laws reflect the seriousness of animal torture and abuse,” said Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Minority Leader of the Massachusetts and the original sponsor of the bill.

 “Our commitment towards ending the cruel and inhumane treatment of innocent animals is steadfast, and today we have taken significant action to protect their safety and welfare,” said Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford), a longtime champion of animal welfare legislation.  “There is zero tolerance for such despicable brutality and today’s action by the Senate sends a clear message.”

 “We do not tolerate animal cruelty in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This legislation ensures that animals are treated humanely and that those who engage in animal cruelty are punished. One animal that dies of mistreatment is one animal too many.”

 PAWS II will enhance humane treatment of animals, expand the role of mandated reporters, and punish those who engage in animal cruelty. Key components of the bill include provisions to:

  • ensure abuse is reported;
  • ensure efficient enforcement of animal control laws;
  • prohibit the drowning of wild and domestic animals;
  • prohibit engaging in sexual contact with an animal;
  • remove automatic killing of animals involved in animal fighting;
  • add animal crimes to the list of offenses that serve as the basis for a request for a determination of detention and or release upon conditions;
  • prohibit discrimination against specific dog breeds; and
  • require abandoned animal checks in vacant properties.

 The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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Police Briefs 03-29-2018

Police Briefs 03-29-2018

PHONE FEUD

On March 16, at 12:10 p.m., officers responded to Bellingham Square and spoke to the victim who is employed by Assurance Wireless, a company that provides free cell phones for low-income individuals.

The victim stated the male in question applied for a phone, but was denied.  He said that the subject was upset and later approached him while in the area of the Rainbow Apparel, located at 428 Broadway. He stated that the subject snatched a cardboard box containing one cellular phone out of his hand and went across the street to the laundromat. The subject was identified and placed into custody.

Fidel Hernandez, 50, of Quincy, was charged with unarmed robbery and violating the knife ordinance.

MARCH MADNESS

On March 16, at 4:02 p.m., officers were dispatched to  207 Shurtleff St, the Chelsea Community Center for a report of an unwanted party. Upon arrival, officers spoke with the reporting party, who works at the front desk. She advised officers that a male party known to her had walked into the building and onto the basketball court without paying the required fee. She stated that she told him she would be calling the Chelsea Police if he didn’t leave and his reply was something to the effect of, “I want to see them come in here and get me.” Officers were able to place the male into custody after he refused to leave, and began arguing with employees at the front desk. He additionally was trespassed from the property.

Elyas Abdi, 19, of 180 Central Ave., was charged with trespassing, resisting arrest, threatening to commit a crime, and disorderly conduct.

TWO MS-13 PLEAD GUILTY

Two MS-13 members have pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to charges of racketeering conspiracy involving murder.

Oscar Recinos Garcia, a/k/a “Psycho,” 24, a Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty March 21 to RICO conspiracy and being an alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition. U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV scheduled Recinos Garcia’s sentencing for June 13, 2018.

On March 20, Jose Andrade a/k/a “Inocente,” 27, a Salvadoran national, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to conduct enterprise affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity, more commonly referred to as RICO, and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. Judge Saylor scheduled Andrade’s sentencing for June 12, 2018.

Andrade and Recinos Garcia were both members of the Everett Locos Salvatrucha, or ELS clique, of MS-13. The defendants admitted that their racketeering activity, on behalf of MS-13, included their involvement in the murder of a teenager who was associated with MS-13 and wrongly suspected by the gang of cooperating with law enforcement. On July 5, 2015, the victim was murdered in Lawrence by Josue de Paz a/k/a “Gato” and another MS-13 member. Evidence showed that Andrade and Recinos Garcia were both involved in planning the murder and shared the intent to have the victim killed. The evidence also showed that Andrade was part of the original plan to kill the victim, but was unable to participate in the murder because he was arrested in June 2015. The gang then recruited De Paz to commit the murder, and Recinos Garcia passed along the message to De Paz to kill the victim.

De Paz and Recinos Garcia were arrested on July 8, 2015, in Somerville in a raid that resulted in the recovery of a firearm, several large knives, photographs of MS-13 members flashing gang signs, and a large volume of MS-13 paraphernalia, including blue and white hats, bandanas and rosary beads. Recinos Garcia was also charged with possession of the firearm seized on that day. Andrade was also charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana after evidence revealed that he and other MS-13 members distributed marijuana on behalf of the gang.  De Paz pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy involving murder and is awaiting sentencing.

Police Log

Monday, 3/12

Jennifer Khudari, 31, 41 South Ave., Revere, was arrested for operating motor vehicle with revoked license and possessing Class B drug.

Thursday, 3/15

Leonides Bones, 60, 4 Fernboro St., Dorchester, was arrested for possessing alcoholic beverage.

Friday, 3/16

Fidel Hernandez, 50, 36 Elm St., Quincy, was arrested for unarmed robbery and dangerous weapon.

Elyas Abdi, 19, 180 Central Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for trespassing, resisting arrest, threat to commit crime, disorderly conduct.

Saturday, 3/17

Jose Coronado-Hercules, 21, 101 Park St., Chelsea, was arrested for receiving stolen motor vehicle.

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DiDomenico Supports and Promotes Civics Education Curriculum

DiDomenico Supports and Promotes Civics Education Curriculum

Last week, Sen. Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett) and his colleagues in the Massachusetts Senate voted to pass, S.2355, An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement.  The legislation enacts a hands-on and experiential approach to fostering civic engagement by incorporating project-based learning components, encouraging the instruction of civic competencies – including news and media literacy – and providing extracurricular civic-participation opportunities.

 The curriculum is made possible by the Civics Project Trust Fund, which will provide funding for professional development and for the further development of curriculum frameworks.

 “Now more than ever, civics education is of the highest importance to teach and prepare our next generation of leaders,” said Sen. DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “I am confident that this legislation will empower youth with the tools and knowledge they need to be well-versed in our electoral system and legislative process, and will ensure that they are ready to be active participants in our democracy.”

 “I am incredibly proud of the bill that we passed today,” said Senate President Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “This civics curriculum is a long-term investment in the future of our Commonwealth. When we begin to educate our children about civic responsibility at a young age, we foster the growth and development of our nation’s future leaders.”

 “One of the primary purposes of our education system is to have an informed and engaged citizenry; this bill will aid in students understanding of rights, our laws and electoral system, and the value of their participation in our democracy,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester).

 “Civics education is crucial to mending the perilous state of our country’s politics and governance. Equally important, it will increase access to governance and civic learning for students from communities that have been historically disenfranchised. This bill is an important step toward fulfilling our responsibility to pass the torch of democracy to the next generation of voters and problem-solvers,” said Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education.

  The bill has been referred to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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We Need Courage to Stand Up for Public Education

We Need Courage to Stand Up for Public Education

(The following was delivered to the School Committee at its public hearing on Thursday, March 15)

Good evening and welcome to the Chelsea Public Schools FY19 Budget Public Hearing. This year’s budget represents a budget gap of $3.1 million between what we need and what we can do.

We have worked very hard in this budget season to maintain a district lens and sacrifice for the greater good of our students and staff. We have maintained programs and services that are required compliance, regulations or law; we have prioritized our Accelerated Improvement Plan work and our Turnaround Plan work, because that work is about our students’ futures. We have made cuts that were the least impactful on classroom instruction and we have shifted positions with the shifting needs of our student demographics—positions shifted to where there is more student need.

It is fitting that our FY19 school budget is being presented to you this week; because this week is Public Schools Week across our nation. Public schools are the foundation of our democracy. Ladies and gentlemen, I LOVE PUBLIC EDUCATION!

Public education is inclusive and universal. We welcome and educate all races, religions, sexual orientations, abilities, and languages. We are the best investment with the highest return on our future as a country, dollar for dollar.

Strengthening our public schools is the best way to ensure our children’s success and our country’s prosperity. And yet, sadly, we find ourselves in a time and place where we are not willing as a society, as a citizenry, to invest in public education. Each year I come to you with a budget that is failing more and more to meet the complex needs of our students.

Each year I come to you with a budget that fails to provide an equitable education compared to public school children in wealthier communities. Each year we, these educators—teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals here tonight are being asked to do more with far less.

Providing our schools with the funding that is needed for our children, for the next generation is the civil rights struggle of our time. Will you join me in this civil rights struggle; will you join me in our quest for social justice?

We need now, today, to have the courage to stand up for public education. We need to have the courage to face our federal and state leaders and demand that the definition of “adequacy” in education, especially for our children in urban communities is no longer a fluctuating dollar figure, annually.

I ask you to:

  • Call or email your state legislators to restore to Chelsea this year the $300 per student rate in the economically disadvantaged allocation – an amount that will provide Chelsea with over $1,000,000 more in our budget.
  • Call or email your state legislators to support Senate Bill 223, An Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century, which will begin a seven-year incremental and fairly paced structural fix to the foundation budget formula. Because if the foundation formula was implemented today, without adjusting rates for inflation, but simply giving us what was promised in the formula algorithm itself, such as 100 percent charter school reimbursement rather than 47 percent reimbursement, Chelsea would have an additional $17 million dollars in its Chapter 70 budget.
  • Call or email your congressional delegation to stop at the federal level the continued prioritization of privatization as well as stop the elimination of federal grants such as Title II, Title IV, 21st Century, and other cuts proposed in President Trump’s FY19 budget.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Courage is more exhilarating than fear, and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”

I ask that each of you have the courage, alongside me, to take the next step and stare down the inequities; I ask that each of you take up the next step in our educational civil rights challenge, in our search for social justice. We can’t wait any longer, the structural deficit is causing harm to our children’s futures.

We need to start loving and funding public education once again.

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